A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century
Patrick Hart, editor
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Buy *A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century: Where Do We Go from Here?* by Patrick Hart, editor online

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century: Where Do We Go from Here?
Patrick Hart, editor
Cistercian Publications
264 pages
October 2006
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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Christian monasticism has entered its third millennium, and some wonder what is going to happen to it. This book, edited by Br. Patrick Hart, O.C.S.O., is a collection of essays by those living the monastic life in the Cistercian and Benedictine orders and those who are very familiar with monasticism. Most of the authors are Roman Catholics, but essays were also requested from some Protestant authors like Kathleen Norris and Bonnie Thurston, adding an interesting twist to the collection.

Some authors suggest that monasteries might experiment with the idea of allowing men or women to live with them for a few years and then move on in their lives, something similar to what occurs in Buddhist monasticism. Others suggest that some monasteries may become double monasteries where there are men and women, but of course separated in proper ways. The vow of celibacy is really not an issue to be done away with, since celibacy or chastity is an important part of the monastic life.

Several authors say that true monastic witness is important for the Church and for the world. This witness is counter-cultural, but it should be real and not fake; people can see through a fake witness. So it is that essayists encourage monastic men and women to live up to their calling; the world is hungry for spirituality, and it must be taught authentically, not in a commercial-like way. Monks and nuns should not give in to the world and use slogans to recruit new members or people to attend their retreats or guest houses. This is part of being counter-cultural and not commercializing spirituality or the monastic life.

Monastic membership rolls will not be large except in Africa and Asia, where Christianity is growing. The authors agree that monasticism will survive but adapt to the times and places where it is lived, as it ever has throughout time. This may require reformers or charismatic leaders to move a monastic community forward instead of letting it stagnate and die. The consensus that monasticism will be present in the Church as long as God wishes it to be a living part of the Church.

A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century is highly recommended to those interested in the future of Benedictine and Cistercian monasticism. The authors of the collected essays include

  • Dr. Bonnie Thurston, an ordained Protestant minister and professor of scripture who did her dissertation on Thomas Merton and currently lives the life of a hermit.
  • Fr. Michael Casey, O.C.S.O., a Cistercian monk of Tarrawarra Abbey in Australia, is a well-known author of books and articles on monasticism and is a much sought-after lecturer and retreat master.
  • Kathleen Norris is the author of the book Cloister Walk (1996) and other books and is a Protestant oblate of Assumption Abbey in North Dakota.
  • Fr. Terrence Kardong, O.S.B., is a Benedictine monk of Assumption Abbey, North Dakota, editor of the American Benedictine Review, and author of books and articles on monasticism.
  • Dr. Lawrence S. Cunningham is a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame who has written and lectured on monasticism.
  • Sr. Joan Chittister, O.S.B., a Benedictine sister from Erie, Pennsylvania, was prioress of her community and has written several books and articles on monasticism and other topics.
  • Bishop Robert Morneau is an auxiliary Bishop of Green Bay and has written articles and books on spirituality and given retreats to monastic communities.
  • Abbot John Eudes Bamberger, O.C.S.O. is the former abbot of the Genesee Abbey in New York and superior of a monastery in the Philippines.
  • Abbess Gail Fitzpatrick, O.C.S.O., is the abbess of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey in Iowa and is the author of Seasons of Grace (2000).
  • Abbot Francis Kline, O.C.S.O., the late abbot of Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina, authored Lovers of the Place (1997).
  • Fr. Daniel P. Coughlin, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago and chaplain to the U.S. House of Representatives, has written articles on liturgy, prayer, and spirituality.
  • Sr. Mary Margaret Funk, O.S.B., is a Benedictine sister of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she was prioress from 1985 to 1993. She is the executive director of the Monastic Inter-religious Dialogue and the author of Thoughts Matter, Tools Matter, Humility Matters and Islam Is.
  • Sr. Miriam Pollard, O.C.S.O., is the prioress of Santa Rita Abbey in Sonoita, Arizona, and the author of many books, articles and poems.
  • Br. Patrick Hart, O.C.S.O., edited this collection essays. He is a monk of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky who has been involved with Cistercian Publications and is now the general editor of the Monastic Wisdom Series published by Liturgical Press in concert with Cistercian Publications.
  • Abbot Bernardo Oliveral, O.C.S.O. is the abbot general of the Cistercians and wrote the introduction to A Monastic Vision for the 21st Century.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Br. Benet Exton, O.S.B., 2006

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